Got labels prepped for when the modules arrive. I should mention, those are the actual names of the modules. There’s a third in the trio. It’s called Inertia, the slowest of the three. Collectively they’re called Sloths, for the slow waveforms they emit.
A little test run of the new Hazumi sequencer, running on VCV Rack, the free modular synth emulator. Hazumi, the grid on the far left, is from the Voxglitch family of modules, created by Bret Truchan. The audio is the initial loop of sound from “Ma,” the first piece of music heard on the very first Buddha Machine (this is from a digital file, not from the physical device). It’s heard here in three pitches, rendered in Adobe Audition: the original, then up four semitones, and then up one additional semitone. The original is also running through Glitch Shifter, a module from Unfiltered Audio, the company of Joshua Dickinson, Michael Hetrick, Ryan McGee, and Benn Cooper. Hetrick spoke to my Sounds of Brands course last year. The additional noise comes courtesy of two sources: the fan of my laptop, and the wind from a chimney, the latter due to the storm (an “atmospheric river”) currently assaulting San Francisco.
Monday night. Your batteries have run out, so to get the Buddha Machine source audio, you opt for the album version of the first track, “Ma,” on a streaming service. Running through the Glitchlets script for Norns (albeit on a Fates).
That is, indeed, a cassette player in the foreground. It’s been modded in a couple ways, the key one here being that the speed of the playback can be manipulated electronically. Specifically, the sort of control voltage that works between synthesizer modules can be applied externally to the speed of the cassette. In this case, a slow waveform is increasing and reducing (back and forth, pendulum-like) the pace of the cassette playback, lending it that slurry, warbling quality. (Note the long, pink cable that plugs into cassette player.)
The recorded sequence itself is a Buddha Machine as sampled, sequenced, and played by Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator (PO-33 K.O.). I recorded that PO-33 K.O. sequence onto the tape, and then rewound the tape and played it back as controlled by the control voltage (CV) output of the synthesizer (seen in the background). This is the first patch I’ve tried out with the CV cassette player, which I received on Friday in the mail and have been eager to give a test run.
The slow wave form, an LFO (low-frequency oscillation), is from a Batumi (by Xaoc), its highs and lows compacted by the SPO (by WMD / SSF). SPO stands for Scaler / Polarizer / Offset Generator. The cassette player mod is by the awesome Chester Winowiecki, of Whitehall, Michigan. (The other mod is it can take an audio line in. The standard device only used its own microphone.) I shared some photos of the tape cassette player a few days ago: “Cassette Bent.”
Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media
• July 28, 2021: This day marks the start of the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
• December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
• January 6, 2021: This day marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
• There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the forthcoming book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
• A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)
• The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
Since January 2012, the Disquiet Junto has been an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making community that employs creative constraints as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list (each Thursday), listen to tracks by participants from around the world, read the FAQ, and join in.